You stand on the side of the ring and watch the World Champion handlers.
They are smooth, on time, fast. Their dogs fluid in their response, watching every physical inflection like a precision clock. You long to be that good, to have a dog that perfect.
What does it take, you ask yourself?
More practice, more training, more videos, seminars, equipment? Which aspect of agility training are you missing right now in order to boost your skills to the next level? Well, that’s a question only you can ask and answer. Each team having so many variables to their current skill set. Starting with your own physical ability, knowledge gained, amount of practice, availability of good instructors all the way to your dog’s physical ability, training and practice.
When will I have my own perfect agility dog?
What I’m finding in my own journey is that there really is no such thing as a “perfect agility dog”. They may be perfect in their handler’s eyes, which is a completely different thing. The love you have for your dog makes them perfect in that sense. But what makes them so good in the ring to be flawless in competition.
While observing all the different handlers and getting to know them and their journey through agility, I’m finding that it’s more of a balancing act than a true destination. The handlers I admire most are the ones that have had all different breeds and all different personality of dogs. Slow, fast, motivated, fearful, hyperactive, the full spectrum of variety when it comes to dogs. I personally feel that this gives them a true ability to empathize with all handlers with all their various struggles.
While my journey so far is still quite new in comparison to others. It does seem to be measured in dog years. How many agility dogs have they owned? How many years of trialing with one particular dog to reach that pinnacle of performance? That’s how you truly gauge a handler’s experience. Yes, their accolades and awards play a part, but really how do they manage the ups and downs of training?
How do I fix this?
Of course, as the years go by and they have different dogs and different challenges to overcome they gain experience at how to handle a specific issue. But it does seem to be an ever-changing kaleidoscope of “how do I fix this” type of training.
So be patient with yourself and your dog, of course. Love where you are at in your current challenge because next time, next dog, next year it will definitely be something different after you’ve conquered this one. Agility does seem to be such a good analogy for life in general. Once you finish this obstacle, be sure to get ready for the next. Focus forward, never look back.